The hierarchy of courts of Malaysia starts with the Magistrates Court as the first level followed by the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Malaysia, which is the highest level.

The High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are superior courts, while the Magistrates Court and the Sessions Court are subordinate courts.

There are also various other courts outside of the hierarchy. There are the Penghulu’s Courts, the Syariah Courts and the Native Courts. A court, which is paralleled in jurisdiction with the Magistrates’ Court, is the Juvenile Court.

Generally, there are two types of trials, namely criminal and civil.

(a) The Federal Court
The Federal Court hears appeals from the Court of Appeal.
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(b) The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal hears appeals from the High Court relating to both civil and criminal matters.
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(c) The High Court
A) CIVIL JURISDICTION

The High Court has jurisdiction to try all civil matters but generally confines itself to matters on which the Magistrates and Sessions Courts have no jurisdiction. These include matters relating to divorce and matrimonial cases, appointment of guardians of infants, the granting of probate of wills and testaments and letters of administration of the estate of deceased persons, bankruptcy and other civil claims where the amount in dispute exceeds RM250,000.

B) CRIMINAL JURISDICTION

The High Court may hear all matters but generally confines itself to offences on which the Magistrates and Sessions Courts have no jurisdiction, for instance, offences which carry the death penalty.

C) APPELLATE JURISDICTION

The High Court may hear appeals from the Magistrates and Sessions Courts in both civil and criminal matters.

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(d) The Sessions Court
(A) CIVIL JURISDICTION

A Sessions Court may hear any civil matter involving motor vehicle accidents, disputes between landlord and tenant, and distress actions. The Sessions Court may also hear other matters where the amount in dispute exceeds RM25,000 but does not exceed RM150,000.

(B) CRIMINAL JURISDICTION

A Sessions Court has jurisdiction to try all criminal offences EXCEPT those punishable by death.

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(e) The Magistrates Court
The Magistrates Courts deal with the vast majority of cases, both civil and criminal, and sit in almost all major towns in Malaysia.
A) CIVIL JURISDICTION

A Magistrates Court may hear a civil case when the amount in dispute does not exceed, RM25,000.

Where the amount claimed does not exceed RM5,000 you may wish to file your claim in the small claims division of the Magistrates Court. If you do so however, you must be prepared to conduct the case yourself, as legal representation is not permitted.

(B) CRIMINAL JURISDICTION

A Magistrates Court may hear criminal matters of the following nature: –

  • where the offence is punishable by a fine only – this would cover the majority of traffic offences.
  • where the offence provides for a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) years. A Magistrate may not, however, impose a term of imprisonment exceeding five (5) years.
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